The Union Recorder

Homepage

March 31, 2014

GOP Senate candidates debate port, flood insurance

SAVANNAH — Republican candidates for Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat debated Saturday whether Congress has pushed hard enough for deepening the Savannah harbor and whether the federal government should keep giving homeowners a break on flood insurance.

All seven contenders seeking the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss shared a stage before a few hundred spectators at a school auditorium in Savannah with less than two months remaining until the May 20 primary. And some of their sharpest disagreements dealt with issues critical to the Georgia coast.

Each vowed support for the $652 million deepening of the shipping channel to the busy Port of Savannah, and accused the Obama administration of throwing up a roadblock in recent weeks that could delay construction from starting this year. Timing is critical because an expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to send supersized cargo ships to the East Coast as soon as 2015.

But the two candidates running as Washington outsiders said they were stunned that the harbor deepening still hasn't begun despite planning that started in the late 1990s.

"It's just another example of a lack of a sense of urgency" by Congress, said David Perdue, the former Reebok and Dollar General CEO whose TV ads have portrayed the three congressmen in the race as whiny babies who can't get anything done.

Karen Handel, Georgia's former secretary of state, added: "No one would get 17 years to deliver this project to their boss in the private sector."

Their barbs got a bristling response from Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah, whose district includes the port. He promised the harbor expansion will get done and dismissed his opponents as latecomers to an issue Gov. Nathan Deal has called Georgia's top economic priority.

"Have you ever written a letter in support of it?" Kingston asked. "I've worked with two members on Congress on this stage but I haven't heard from anybody else. ...Where were they when we met with the White House, over and over again? Or when we met with the four federal agencies that have to sign off on the project? Can they even name the four agencies?"

The Savannah congressman also found himself at odds with his fellow House members — Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey — when candidates were asked about the future of federal subsidies for flood insurance. Congress voted two years ago to draw down the subsidies over time after Hurricane Katrina and other disasters left the insurance program with a $24 billion deficit.

That triggered giant leaps in premiums — up to 25 percent for current homeowners and even more for new buyers of coastal properties — and the outcry prompted Congress this month to roll back or delay some of the harsher impacts.

"The problem with flood insurance is the same problem we have with health insurance, agricultural crop insurance, student loans and everything else," said Broun of Athens. "It's the federal government getting involved in things it shouldn't."

Gingrey of Marietta said it's unfair for taxpayers who don't live in flood-prone areas to subsidize those that do. He said Congress' initial attempt at fixing the problem was correct but once constituents started complaining lawmakers "didn't have the guts to stand by what they'd done right the first time."

"We have kept giving subsidies to people who keep rebuilding in a flood plain and we keep requiring them to have flood insurance," Gingrey said.

Art Gardner, a Cobb County attorney also in the race, said he didn't know enough about the insurance program to have an opinion. Derrick Grayson, a network engineer for Atlanta's mass transit system, said he opposed the federal government having a role with both flood insurance and the deepening of Savannah's harbor, which is a federal waterway.

The Savannah showdown was the fifth Senate debate sponsored by the Georgia Republican party. Two more will be held before the primary — April 19 in Augusta and May 10 in Columbus.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
IMG_5143.JPG

The H.E.A.T traffic enforcement and education initiative began in the Baldwin County Schools corridor Monday. The RADAR Speed Detection Trailer is positioned on Ga. Highway 49.

Features
SRC 5.jpg

The Teen Club, as part of the Twin Lakes Library System's Summer Reading Club, and Reference Supervisor Dabney Kinser do candy science experiments to finish up the science themed reading club experience.

Business
07-25 Chatter.JPG

Chatter Boutique owner Amber Patitucci shows off a new shipment of jewelry. The former educator turned businesswoman is celebrating one year of business. To commemorate the event, the store is featuring a birthday bash sale with items at half price.

Local Sports
Editorials
Columns
Letters
Local Weather Radar
Poll
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up Broken Water Main Floods UCLA "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad